I love to look through my baby photo album and family photo albums when I visit my parent's house in Austin. I want our boys to have a similar experience but I'm a pretty delinquent memory keeper. The thought of scrapbooking makes me feel itchy. No, like really.
So, when Dashiell was born I knew I needed some kind of simple system that not induce itchiness to document his childhood and our family through the years. And I'm happy to report I've come up with a system that's working for me, which is very good news since I have the memories of another baby boy to collect!
Here's what I've come up with so far:
+ Writing in baby books.
For Dashiell I wrote in a baby book somewhat regularly. I like the baby book we chose because it's not too structured so you can't do it wrong. However, I found I wrote a lot in the early months and then tapered off as it was harder to find the time (Dashiell was more active, I was back at work) and as there were more and more changes to record. I haven't been keeping up this baby book for Dashiell but maybe I'll jump back in. I'm taking a very "whatever works for you right now" approach and consciously choosing to not lose sleep over inconsistencies. It's fun to look back at little gems like the fact that a year ago we were still waiting for Dash to sleep through the night for the first time. Oh, Kelsey from a year ago, it will get so much better! And can I pour you a cup of coffee?
I've been doing a better job writing monthly for each boy in lovely Nikki McClure The First 1000 Days books. There's a two-page spread for each month up to two years as well as pages for the birth story and to record other "firsts". Even if I don't make time to sit down on a particular month birthday I try to jot some notes on a post-it or on my phone so that when I sit to write I can remember what was happening that month. My plan is to write one page for each month and include a photo on the opposite page. Writing once a month feels like a pace I can keep up and I'm not planning to do a separate baby book for Cedric like I did for Dashiell. And I'm choosing not to stress or worry over that.
+ Photo books.
Oh my gosh, the photos we take of our kids, it's overwhelming! At least that's how I feel. What seems to be working for me so far is to create Blurb photo books by downloading photos off my phone and uploading them to Blurb via their Bookify free software. Then I quickly drop the images into pages while practicing the mindset of "done is better than perfect".
For Dashiell I created two baby photo books: birth to six months and then six months to twenty-one months. I had thought I'd make the second photo book six months to a year but didn't get around to it until just after Cedric was born and so decided to include photos up until that point. I put his second photo book together pretty quickly while Cedric was napping and tried to fit a lot of photos in by doing lots of multi-photo collages. In hindsight I wish I had sone more full page photos, which is something I love about Dash's first photo book. But at least his first year plus is captured in an album; calling that a win!
For Cedric, I already have a folder of photos created on my desktop where I'll download photos off my phone up until he's a year old. My plan is to make him one photo book of his first year. Now that I have my system down I think it will be easier to make one book instead of two.
These will be the only individual photo books that I'll make for the boys. I plan to make a family photo book each year as well starting this year. As I download photos from my phone and sort out photos for Cedric's photo book I'll also sort photos into a separate folder for our 2015 family album. There will definitely be overlap between Cedric's baby photo book and our family album for this year but I think that will be okay.
+ Framing favorite photos.
This is something I haven't started but I would like to have more framed family photos around the house, such as in our gallery wall (which I would like to grow over time) or by framing large prints or framing Instagram photos. This is something I can accomplish here and there. Perhaps I'll create a folder on my computer for favorite photos to frame and as I download photos from my phone I'll drop them in there and print, frame and hang them once a year.
Nothing that I'm doing is very Pinterest-worthy but for someone who gets anxious to pass the scrapbooking aisle at the craft store I'm super proud that I'm doing any kind of memory keeping. And what's most important is to collect and preserve these years for the boys. Dashiell already loves to read his "books about Dashiell" and so if my target audience is happy, I'm happy.